Kiwoce Open School
The Kiwoce Open School Is A Model Of What Education Centered On Student Capabilities And Needs – Academic, Personal And Environmental – Looks Like.
KIWOCE (Kilimahewa Women’s and Orphan’s Center for Education), also referred to a Kilimahewa, began as a group of mamas from a subsistence farming community who came together to find a way for their children – unable to attend formal schools – to keep learning. These women and their children gathered each day under a tree on the property of their leader, (Mama) Grace Lyimo.
From under the tree, instruction moved into a small two-room turquoise building on the property where volunteers (local and foreign) taught the children English and math. In 2010, KIWOCE’s future changed radically when three of these volunteers joined forces to make it a focal point of their newly-created 501-c3 non-profit, EdPowerment.
In 2011-2012, EdPowerment refurbished the original building, upgraded the outdoor patio to serve as additional classroom space, and funded a more sanitary toilet space. More importantly, EdPowerment financed a successful Water Well, critical for the Center’s growth.
From 2012 - 2015, funding from another US based non-profit, Go Campaign, for two classroom buildings, and a $53,000 Rotary Global Grant catapulted KIWOCE’s capacity. EdPowerment remained the engine behind its operations, staffing and educational schemes.
TODAY, KIWOCE/Kilimahewa is a full-service, community-based educational center. EdPowerment’s three key concentrations – core academics, employability skills and personal development – all have a place at this officially registered “Open School.” Within Tanzania, these schools can be called “Second Chance” schools. The truth is that KIWOCE is often the only chance school. At Kilimahewa, EdPowerment teams up with its teachers and staff to activate critical thinking, nurture positive behaviors and build the foundations that turn this second or only chance into productive futures.
THE HOSTEL PROJECT: In January 2019, KIWOCE opened doors to a lovely second-floor girls’ hostel above one of its classroom buildings. In the past, distance and security concerns prevented many young women, who would otherwise reap KIWOCE’s enormous benefits, from attending the Center. A generous grant from the T&J Meyer Family Foundation and targeted support from EdPowerment’s supporters accomplished this life-changing project. Today, we are getting out the word to other NGOs and community members that young women can now take specific skills classes such as ICT training, as well as a secondary school certificate, in a nurturing environment.
KIWOCE OPEN SCHOOL PROGRAMS
Secondary School Equivalency Course
In truth, many post-primary adolescent students cannot continue in the Tanzanian secondary schools because of family and economic constraints. KIWOCE offers these youth another way to secure a recognized secondary school degree. Using diverse teaching strategies, hands-on and on-line educational tools, and individual attention, the Center works to (1) compensate for the deficits that most students have coming from poor areas with marginalized schools and (2) encourage mindsets that are open and able to learn.
IT, Computer Training & Short Courses
EdPowerment structured KIWOCE’s first computer program in 2013 with an initial set of laptops, projector, software and instructional guides. In 2015, the program was taken to another level by a Rotary Global Grant that included complete Internet infrastructure and solar energy panels.
Today the Center’s IT program compares favorably to any other in the area. Through a range of computer and IT training options and other short courses – particularly intensified English – KIWOCE targets under or unemployed young adults and workers who seek better prospects. The Center also works with groups who want to use its facilities and teachers to train employees.
Our impact stories attest to the very real change that our program can bring about in students’ lives. [See downloadable Impact stories]
KIWOCE Community Library
Begun in 2013, the KIWOCE library is the only library for locals. Books include both Kiswahili and English fiction and non-fiction offerings at many levels. Especially valuable for students from area government schools lacking books are the library’s sets of review books for Form 2 and 4 National Exams. Motivated students now have a place to prepare themselves for these exams on Saturday mornings or even in the late afternoons. Locals who want to read newspapers and educate themselves further on subjects, both practical and theoretical, now have a place to do so and young people can work on their English and gain exposure that reading provides.
Boys and Girls Club
Saturdays now offer KIWOCE students and neighboring teens inspiration, practical skills and an introduction to things they have never encountered even within their own environment. Meeting together and separately, these Clubs demonstrate the emphasis that EdPowerment, through KIWOCE, places on employability skills and personal development. Sessions range from Female Health and Positive Thinking Seminars to local craft/skill demonstrations to knot-tying and cooking lessons. Local entrepreneurs and professionals visit the young people to motivate them, coach them on activities such as presenting to a group and make them aware of what we call “soft skills.”
The local component of the Rotary Global Grant awarded KIWOCE and supervised by EdPowerment’s Kerri Gilbert, developed husbandry projects to produce some income while teaching best practices to neighboring subsistence farmers. Having tried several ventures, not all successfully, KIWOCE is now redeveloping its crop production projects, including its greenhouse facility. Students participate in these activities to learn ways to choose appropriate crops, maximize small plot output, and seek and access local markets. Partnerships with organizations such as SEVIA (Seeds of Expertise for the Vegetable Sector of Africa) help KIWOCE bring needed advice and coaching to the community.
Pre-Form One Course
Standard 7 students complete primary school in early September, taking the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Exam) that determines their next step to “O”rdinary level secondary school. As they wait their results for the following January, these students, generally 12 – 14 years, have nothing to do. KIWOCE invites students from the neighboring government schools to an approximately 10-week program (offered at a fee structure manageable by local families)
This Course reinforces English language and math concepts, teaches other subjects, introduces the computer, and offers life skills training and other activities that challenge them to reason and read independently.
The Kilimahewa Enrichment Camp
Each summer KIWOCE invites local secondary school students on the last week of semester break to enjoy hands-on learning and participate in 6 daily sessions: English, a math/science combo, healthy living, art and/or music, physical exercise and computers. In 2018 the Camp reached its maximum enrollment of 150 teenagers, who for the first time experienced a “fun” way to learn using internet resources, classroom and field equipment and group activities. It’s only one week, but it may light a spark, brighten an otherwise empty month-long break, and expose local teens to a place where they can always come to supplement their formal classes.